This controversial Agreement has aroused strong reactions around the world, but what is it all about? Where does it come from? And what does the ACTA Agreement really mean for us citizens in practice?
ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is a trade agreement between a number of nations, both inside and outside the EU, aimed at preventing counterfeiting and illegal copying and sharing. With this legislation it is hoped to establish a more effective co-operation across national boundaries to stop e.g. illegal copying and sharing and counterfeiting.
Since ACTA is a trade agreement between different nations, many of the negotiations have been conducted behind closed doors which has been vigorously criticised and has led to heated protests worldwide. Critics believe that the advocates of ACTA will force the signatory nations to introduce stricter laws against illegal copying, for example. This, in the view of the critics, will violate personal integrity and help to shape how the state intervenes in people’s private lives. There is also the view that the democratic deficit is substantially ignored since the ACTA negotiations have mostly been carried out away from the public gaze.
Where does Sweden stand on ACTA?
The Agreement was signed on behalf of Sweden at a ceremony in Japan by the country’s ambassador, Lars Vargö in January 2012. Many in Sweden perceive the entire process and the signing of ACTA as the Swedish government failing to put its cards on the table and concealing its hand.
However, even though Sweden has now signed the ACTA Agreement this means at present only that that we do not ‘reject’ the Agreement, i.e. it should not be interpreted that we have fully approved it; rather there must be a subsequent debate on the Agreement in the Riksdag and within the EU.
As things stand, the Agreement does not appear to have a long life. It may be very difficult to implement the Agreement in practice given that it has aroused such strong reactions and protests already, both inside and outside the EU. Already now the governments of certain countries have got ‘cold feet’ and have withdrawn from the Agreement. These countries include Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany and Romania.
What could prevent ACTA being implemented in practice?
The risk exists that if our leading politicians follow through with this Agreement they then make themselves very unpopular amongst a large section of the population; not least younger people who are not likely to share the view of the record and media companies concerning the right to material. I would go so far as to state that to implement an agreement along the lines of ACTA would constitute political suicide...